One of Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rigs is beached on an island in the Gulf of Alaska, threatening environmental damage from a fuel spill and calling into question Shell’s plans to resume drilling in treacherous waters north of Alaska in the summer.
The Kulluk, which broke free from a tow ship in stormy seas and ran aground, has over 56000 litres of diesel fuel on-board.
Steven Russell of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said that, so far, there was no sign of harm to the environment or wildlife. The Kulluk is in the Sitkalidak Strait, home to a threatened species of sea lion.
A system designed to collect oil in the case of an accident failed during testing, preventing Shell from drilling into oil-bearing formations during its abbreviated exploration season.
A sign of things to come?